Mom Rights Anyone?

VIP movements resulting in the school declaring a holiday on Monday!! Yayy and other similar squeals of excitement erupted from the tween. I sent up a silent hallelujah thanking the heavens for granting me an extra forty winks on a cold winter morning. This was how we wound down the Sunday without Monday morning blues plaguing us.

As a Mom you know that happiness such as this is short lived and all good things come with a price. Egg-jactly!! For the next day was spent trying to first get her out of bed, which was achieved at noon (please those perfect mommy’s whose kids wake up at the crack of dawn out there kindly do not judge this only to human Mother!!) Then began the task of coaxing her into the bathroom to have her shower, Whhhhyyyy Mom!! It’s a holiday!! And it’s sooooo coolllldddd!! All the moaning to test the patience of a saint (which I’m not.) Then the struggle to get her off the various gizmos we indulgent and completely ignorant parents buy when the brat makes her puppy face with promises galore on how she will be more responsible.

“Aaah!” I thought as I settled down with me well earned cuppa of green tea and much needed yet weak vitamin D after lunch (the first meal of the day in the tweens case.)

She saunters into my sanctuary of peace. “Mom, listen!” she goes dramatically, “Here’s a load of research on why we should get a dog.”

As I rolled my eyes at this oft-repeated conversation she carried on unfazed.

“Spending just 15-20 minutes with your dog can help you with managing stress.”

“Who’s stressed?” I ask.

“Uff, listen Mom. Having a dog may help reduce cardiovascular diseases.”

To which a panicked me asks, “Who’s got cardiovascular diseases in the house? Pray tell me!”

All I get is a frown in return for speaking out of turn as always.

“They are a girl’s best friend!” she continues.

“What’s wrong with your human best friend?” I ask concerned, “Did the two of you fight?”

“Moooommmm! Please take this seriously!” she admonishes and reads out more, “Having a dog makes kids responsible!” she looks at me triumphantly, hearing her lack off in that arena almost all day from me.

To which I snort and choke on my tea most unladylike.

“Mom, you know what? The animal rights people should really give you a talking to!”

“And what about Mom rights?” I ask, “Why isn’t there someone talking about those, I wonder.”

“There’s no such thing as Mom Rights!” she informs me very pointedly.

“Then it’s high time we made some,” I say. “The first one is Moms should be allowed to have their tea in peace. Second, Children should obey Mothers without questioning the ways and wherefores in a minimum of three conversations a day. Thirdly, Moms should be allowed weekly offs where children do all the housework and Moms recline in bed.” I’m happily on a roll, ignoring her expression of disbelief.

Just then the teen ambles in, “Feeling hungry, Mom! Where’s my post lunch snack?” Mother’s of 12th grade boys will only understand this creature that studies all day and some strange hours of the night and eats a minimum of 8 meals a day.

I sigh and get moving, peace eluding me yet again. After feeding the teen his after lunch snack I sit down to write this to seek solidarity and a movement, ladies for “MOM RIGHTS!” Who all are with me?

Mr Right & Mrs Always Right Buy A Car

It was the summer of 2012 and a good eight months before my birthday when the man started to get worried about my ‘four-oh.’ Reason, I’d thrown him a big surprise bash for his, a few months back! Since organising parties had always been my forte and I do happen to throw some pretty good ones. He was understandably anxious I would be disappointed when the time came for mine.  So biting his nails thoughtfully while I read the Saturday morning paper with my cuppa in hand and brain still in the zzzzzs, he casually brings up the topic and asks what I wanted for my big day.

‘A new car,’ I said, to his utter astonishment. He was expecting a holiday to exotic locales, an obnoxiously expensive bauble or something equally outrageous that ‘women’ want. But, a car, not in his wildest dreams!  HE was the automobile aficionado, I had always driven whatever was handed down to me from my Dad, Dad-in-law, him, probably from my son too (if I’d waited till he had his own set of wheels.) But, if you’re a child of the 70’s you’d know the feeling of wearing hand-me-down clothes that passed from the older siblings, hell even cousins, if you were that unlucky. So yes! I’ve always wanted my own new car.

Not one to look the gift horse in the mouth, and before I changed my ‘fickle female mind,’ we set out to look for the perfect wheels for me. When I asked for a ‘small’ car, he was all smiles, what could be better, not only did I want an automobile, which was a thing he understood, I wasn’t going to burn too big a hole in his pocket! Perfecto! What fun we had for the next two months from Honda’s, Hyundai’s, Skoda’s, Ford’s, etc, we paid every dealership a visit. The kids had their own opinions and as Mom’s car is the one that zips them to their myriad classes and social activities, sure, they were entitled! We looked at the Hyundai i10 and I felt it was too small. My son wanting to dissuade me from the Honda Brio which I seemed to be leaning toward cooked up a cock and bull story of how he had seen one whose rear windshield flew off after a truck nudged it from behind. Really! Did he think I was born yesterday! Apparently he did! Hmmm…Coming sooner than I thought! The daughter decided she wanted the new version of the Zen as it was PINK! We shuddered and scooted out of that showroom as quick as a wink.

We finally narrowed down to the Skoda’s, Fabia. Why?  Because for me it just felt right when I drove it! To which my dearest better half rolled his eyes and promptly got into the horse power, engine capacity, mileage and endless list of stuff that goes on under the hood with the sales guy while I fell into a stupor induced by sheer boredom. The kids gave their sanction on the basis that it was ‘okay’ to be seen in by their peer group, certainly not the best but, not the worst either! We took my shining new beauty home, it was love at first sight for me and I couldn’t have been prouder. The Man and I constantly competed on whose car was better kept and a better drive, with him on certain generous occasions acceding that mine was a more convenient drive sometimes, ‘mind it’ only sometimes. While I always said his Volkswagen Vento was a bumbling giant on the roads over whose bonnet I could not see the road (my opinion only, please do not sue me Volkswagen people.)

We had some great times over the next two and a half years, the Fabia and I.  Some funny and one or two that had my kids dragging me off the roads back home as they thanked the almighty!!

Violence on Women as Depicted in Literature

Literature has always served as a mirror of society, projecting its virtues and reflecting the ills that plague it. ‘A theatre, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance. – Dario Fo.’ Violence against women as depicted in Literature, the idea is a complex phenomenon which takes on a range of colors. Here are but a few examples.

In the Greco-Roman stories, women were perceived to be more sexual objects than individuals. In Livy’s account of the rape of Lucretia, a free woman, accepts the ordeal of rape as Sextus threatens her with disgrace, saying that he would kill her and lay his dead slave naked besides her, justifying her murder as that of an adulteress. Hesione, the Princess of Troy, was offered as a virgin sacrifice by her own father to the sea monster to allay the wrath of Posiedon. Imagine a prepubescent girl tied to rocks with violent waves crashing around, the fear of being devoured by a sea monster paralyzing her, as she awaits her doom. What it brings to mind is filial apathy at its worst.

Medieval Literature influenced by the distortion of Judeo-Christian teachings finds the female stereotyped as either saints who rejected their sexuality or as the very personifications of temptation that was Eve. The need to repress women as their unruly character leads to the downfall of men, is found in the portrayal of the women characters in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. From the destruction of the Amazons, to the attempted branding of Alison with a ‘red hot poker,’ to the caricature of The Wife of Bath representing all that is undesirable in a woman. ‘Born to thralldom and penance, and to been under mannes govern.’ Custanse resigns herself to her fate, in spite of being an Emperors’ daughter. Violent acts by husbands on wives was fairly common and women were considered ‘property’ of their husbands. Because they were ‘thralls’ subjugated to their husbands to direct, the female protagonists of Chaucer are representative of the lot of women in the 14th Century which was not only patriarchal but also severely misogynist.

It was true that violence visited against women in the Elizabethan age was also a normal occurrence. In Shakespeare’s time, a man had the right to treat his wife as he saw fit. A woman was something that belonged to her father and then her husband. In Othello, Desdemona’s death scene sends chills down ones spine, our tragic ‘hero’ would ‘not shed her blood’ nor would he ‘scar’ her beauty yet he would kill her ‘else she will betray more men.’ The word of the dead Cassio and the liar Iago weighed against her every utterance, begging for understanding from the man she loves. Her desperate attempts to be spared long enough to ‘say one last prayer’ prove futile.

In 1828 the Offenses Against the Person Act in England, helped to bring amongst others the issues of abuse of women out from the home into the public arena. Even though Victorian Society did not appreciate this ‘airing of dirty laundry’ many writings of the time were greatly influenced. Charlotte and Emily Bronte’s works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, used violence as a component in drawing attention to the subtler pattern of cruelty present in the household. Victorian novels openly illustrated the offensive behavior of men due to their own misapprehensions about the women that they intimidated, threatened and eventually killed. The description of Syke’s murder of Nancy in Dicken’s Oliver Twist has always shocked readers. He ruthlessly bludgeons her to death and even after, that it is based on one of the most infamous murders of the Victorian age expounds the horror.

Over the last 150 years authors both male and female have written about the role of women in society and the feminist movement has brought to the forefront the issues of violence in the lives of everyday women. Margaret Atwood in ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ explores a dreadful futuristic world under theocracy. Nobokov’s ‘Lolita’ a controversial first person narrative of a middle aged man’s sexual relationship with his twelve year old step-daughter. Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’ shocks us with rape, incest, homosexuality, racism at its worst. Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ follows the lives of two women whose fates intersect under one of the most regressive regimes in the modern world and how domestic violence affects them both. ‘Pinjar’ by Amrita Pritam is one of the most helpless portrayal of a Hindu woman kidnapped by a Muslim man to feed fat an ancient family grudge. What makes the tale more poignant is that when she does manage to escape she has nowhere to go, but back to him as her own flesh and blood turn her away. Overlooking violence against women is not realistic, literature proves time and again that it is intrinsic to the very fabric of any society in any time.